New York City House Fire Accident and Injury Attorney


House Fire Accidents and Injuries

House fires are responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths every year in the United States. Though fire departments respond as quickly as possible to calls, it takes only a few minutes for serious property damage, injury, and even death to occur. Even when the fire department does respond quickly enough to prevent catastrophic injury, serious property damage is inevitable if the fire is not extinguished almost immediately.

The injury and death rate for house fires is startling. Burns and smoke inhalation are the two primary injuries suffered during house fires, though other types of injuries can occur. People in the house may suffer trauma due to structural collapse, lacerations due to broken windows, or falls while trying to evacuate the premises.

House Fire Prevention

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the majority of house fires are preventable. By following building and fire codes, installing and maintaining functional smoke detectors, and making sure fire extinguishers are available, even the fires that are not completely preventable are usually containable. Containment saves lives and prevents more significant damage to the property.

Preventing house fires is a worthwhile endeavor, and the following steps are a good place to start. To prevent house fires:

  • have smoke detectors installed in the home, preferably wired into the existing electrical system, and perform monthly checks to make sure the smoke detectors are working
  • keep flammable items at least three feet away from heat sources, especially space heaters
  • keep flammable items away from stoves and other kitchen appliances
  • schedule a home inspection with your local fire department to receive counseling on preventing house fires
  • replace any malfunctioning outlets or other electrical system malfunctions

Doing everything you can to prevent house fires is wonderful, but obviously these guidelines alone are not enough to prevent these tragedies from occurring. Even perfect fire prevention is no guarantee of safety. There are multiple unpredictable causes of fire, including natural disasters such as forest fires and lightning strikes.

House Fire Prevalence

House fires are one of the most common tragedies experienced by Americans. Most people do not grasp just how common and devastating house fires are. It is too easy for people to believe they are safe, even though house fires can occur in any state, in any city, in any neighborhood. Despite many Americans believing they will never suffer such a devastating event, house fires:

  • will affect nearly two-thirds of Americans at some point in their lives
  • cause over 6 billion dollars in property damage every year
  • will result in 12,500 injuries in just the United States on a yearly basis
  • will result in 2,500 deaths in the US per year

With such a large number of house fires occurring, there have been sufficient opportunities to determine the most common causes of these blazes. The most common causes include electrical fires due to faulty wiring, fires caused while cooking (including malfunctioning appliances), and fires caused by smoking inside, particularly around beds or other furniture. When the cause of the fire is preventable with reasonable maintenance, the individual who failed to provide this maintenance may be liable for damage to the home.

Preparing Your Family for a House Fire Evacuation

Because house fires are so common, it is important that your family have a plan in place for what to do in case of emergency. This plan should be based upon the possibility you might have as little as two minutes to escape (research indicates that fires can spread from their point of origin to the opposite side of the house in this time frame). If your plan takes longer than two minutes to execute, you need to prepare a different plan.

The most important part of fire safety training is knowing locations of exits. Everyone in the family needs to know how to quickly evacuate the house from any room. This means making sure that everyone who is of an appropriate age knows how to open windows, and ensuring that everyone can fit through the windows in each room if necessary. Where possible, having two planned exits is key as a fire might render one exit unusable.

Every family should have a designated meeting place in case a fire occurs. Once you exit and proceed to the meeting place, have someone call 911, then maintain a safe distance from the burning building.

The plan must make accommodations for children who are too small to evacuate themselves, and for elderly individuals as well. Taking the time to practice the plan regularly is essential, so everybody knows their responsibilities if a fire does break out. Additional information on preparing for a house fire can be found on the Red Cross website.

For many, this advice is already too little, too late. If you or someone you love has suffered due to a house fire, you are well aware of just how dangerous these events can be. It is likely that you or your loved one suffered injury. Even if you were lucky enough to escape without a burn injury, smoke inhalation likely caused lasting damage to your lungs.

Determining the cause of the fire is exceptionally important, as all too many fires occur because proper protocols were not followed by landlords, or work on the home was not done properly by electricians, contractors, or other individuals hired to improve the property. The fire department will attempt to discover the cause of the fire, but hiring an outside expert is often beneficial.

Knowing the first step to take after a devastating fire can be difficult, particularly if you suspect negligence might have caused the fire. If you are not sure how to proceed, please take our free House Fire Accident and Injury Case Evaluation. Finz & Finz, P.C., has years of experience dealing with house fires, and determining liability can be difficult without significant experience. If you would prefer to talk to a member of our team, you may contact our New York City premises liability lawyer, toll-free at (855) TOP-FIRM.